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Why Sacramento Is The Capital Of California

Updated on May 9, 2016
Sacramento: The Capital Of California
Sacramento: The Capital Of California

Sacramento?

Ask any grade school student in New York or Chicago what City is the capital of California; most would likely say Los Angeles or San Francisco. As amazing as it may seem, however, the Capitol of California is the City of Sacramento.  Located within the Central Valley, Sacramento is  California's seventh most populous city and certainly is not the most well known city in the State. So the question most people ask when they learn Sacramento is California's Capitol City:  Why?

Sacramento: Circa 1849
Sacramento: Circa 1849

Settlement Of Sacramento

The history of the City of Sacramento is as old as the State of California itself. The area that would eventually become the City of Sacramento was originally settled by John Sutter. Sutter built Sutter's Fort  in the heart of what is today Downtown Sacramento.  Sutter's Fort was used as a trading colony and military stockade. The Fort was used to distribute the fruits, vegetables and other resources that were found in the area to Sacramento's earliest settlers. Sutter also built mills in the nearby foothills. It was at one of these mills in what is now Coloma where John Marshall, a Sutter employee, found gold in a stream in 1849.

Sutter's Fort Stills Stands In Downtown Sacramento
Sutter's Fort Stills Stands In Downtown Sacramento

Gold!

Around the time Marshall screamed Eureka, John Sutter's son, John Sutter Jr. was planning to make Sacramento a City. The City of Sacramento was incorporated in 1849 and was the first incorporated City in the State of California. Due to Sacramento's location at the base of the foothills filled with Gold and only ninety miles inland from San Francisco, Sacramento was a major distribution center and center of gold Gold Rush activities.  This is the reason Sacramento was the starting point of the First Transcontinental Railroad. Most of the people who came to California searching for fortune went through Sacramento. Further, the businesses and services that came to California along with the miners settled in Sacramento.

Sacramento Became The Capital And The Building Was Finished In 1874
Sacramento Became The Capital And The Building Was Finished In 1874
The State Capital Today
The State Capital Today

Sacramento Becomes The Capital

Originally, Monterey was chosen as the Capital of California.  However, after Monterey hosted California's Consitutional Convention in 1849 and California was admiited as a State of the United States, the Capital was moved.  San Jose was first chosen as the Capital City, then Vallejo and then Benicia.  In 1854, the Capital was moved again, this time to Sacramento.  And Sacramento was where it remained. 

Sacramento was a logical choice for the Capital of California. First, because of the Gold Rush, Sacramento had become the destination point for the new settlers coming to California to strike it rich. With the gold miners came shopkeepers, blacksmiths, and other service related entrepreneurs that gave the City an economic base.

Second, Sacramento, unlike the other temporary Capitals was not near the ocean so there was little chance of invasion. However, Sacramento's proximity to rivers that led to San Francisco and other ports allowed the City to engage in the economy both on land and at sea.

Last, many of the most powerful people in the newly formed State of California were in Sacramento. John Sutter and John Marshall helped found the City. The City had already been planned, street grids were completed, and it already had a government in place. In Sacramento no city had to be formed. Rather, the Capital could be moved into an area that had already been established.

Sacramento Today
Sacramento Today

Sacramento Today

The California State Capital Building remains the the centerpiece of Downtown Sacramento. Around the Capital the buildings housing the State Government have risen to accommodate the growth of the state bureaucracy. The City of Sacramento has grown as well and still strives to be considered a big city comparable to Los Angeles and San Francisco. But as the other cities have all the perks and all the problems of big cities, Sacramento remains a small town at heart proud to house the center of government in California.

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    • profile image

      Wilson 2 weeks ago

      When I first saw Sacramento personally and learned that it is the capital, I couldn't help wondering why such a small town looking city is the capital without the alive snd busy atmosphere of San Francisco or Los Angeles. It looks like a town! A boring town.

    • profile image

      owlschool 7 months ago

      good info my school kids learned alot

    • profile image

      bullhead 10 months ago

      bullhead

    • profile image

      hakeemelamin2001 13 months ago

      Thanks man. I never thought Sacramento had so much info to why it is the capital. But thanks to you I now know. keep up the good work bro.

    • profile image

      vinnie 16 months ago

      thx for the stuff i really needed the info

    • profile image

      x.r. 2 years ago

      Beautiful piece. You should do one on all the major cities of california.

    • profile image

      Lizabeth. 3 years ago

      Love on Ohio. Love That California Capital!! Great city.....great people.

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 3 years ago from Sacramento, California

      LA then wasn't what LA is now. Good a long time for LA to become a big city. Sacramento was already founded, organized, and both connected to the riverways but far enough away for defense.

    • profile image

      Michael 3 years ago

      i still dont understand why sacramento is the capital of california instead of los angeles

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 3 years ago from Sacramento, California

      You are welcome?

    • profile image

      3 years ago

      gosh thanks!!!!!!

    • profile image

      kelly 4 years ago

      any chance you can post your name?? I'd like to use this info for a paper but I need to site it...I can just use the website I guess but being able to link it directly to an actual person would make it more credible. I hope you get this. Thanks

    • profile image

      pandaface 4 years ago

      thanks for the info

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 4 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Ok, would you like to be more specific?

      Thanks for stopping by

    • profile image

      Lola 4 years ago

      Still don't get it

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 5 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Thanks so much awesome.

    • profile image

      AwesomeM 5 years ago

      Awesome read! As a proud Sacramentan, its not a bad city to live in. You're on point on the "small town at heart," very true. Great job!

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 5 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Thanks for reading.

    • profile image

      bigeyguy 5 years ago

      thanks for helping

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 5 years ago from Sacramento, California

      No problem, and thanks for such kind words. There is great historical sites in Northern California, and Sacramento is just the start.

      Thanks for stopping by.

    • profile image

      staci141 5 years ago

      This is a great article on Sacramento (and why it is the capital of California.) Being a northern Californian and my husband a transplant from Boston, Mass, I've always felt responsible for relaying historical facts about this region. For the most part, I had surmised and embellished upon details of our state's early history, but always wanted to know for certain. My entire family was delighted to hear new and interesting trivia!

      Thanks for the lesson.

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 6 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Thanks for the comment.

    • profile image

      tom boy girl 6 years ago

      I am doing California for a state project so recommend this toanyone else you know. Well the site of course

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 7 years ago from Sacramento, California

      thanks for reading

    • profile image

      blah bla 7 years ago

      i never new

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 7 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Its not forsaken, just not cosmopolitan.

      Thanks for reading.

    • SteveoMc profile image

      SteveoMc 7 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      I did always ask myself why they would choose such a forsaken country to put a capital in, now I know. Thanks for the information.

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 7 years ago from Sacramento, California

      thanks for the comment

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 8 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Thanks for reading. Yes I do, I live about 15 minutes outside Sacramento. Most of the area is very beautiful.

    • wildfremd profile image

      wildfremd 8 years ago from Portland, Oregon

      Great info! Do you live in the sacramento area? It's so beautiful there....

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 8 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Thanks

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      Coloma!  I am a proud member of the class of 1973! 

      Of Coloma . . . Michigan.  Thanks, I enjoyed the history of Sacramento. 

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 8 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Thanks for the comment.

    • profile image

      Writer Rider 8 years ago

      Sacramento where? Never heard of it (sarcasm intended). To me Los Angeles should be the capital of California.

    • goldentoad profile image

      goldentoad 8 years ago from Free and running....

      it was out on video the same day as the theatrical release

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 8 years ago from Sacramento, California

      lol, did the last one make $100,000

    • goldentoad profile image

      goldentoad 8 years ago from Free and running....

      I guess we'll get started making the next terminator movie.

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 8 years ago from Sacramento, California

      No way, he never officially moved here so you get him back. And his $100,000 Cigar tent too.

    • goldentoad profile image

      goldentoad 8 years ago from Free and running....

      You can keep Arnold in the deal.

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 8 years ago from Sacramento, California

      lol, there are a lot of people that say that. But it is what it is. And Sacramento has a pretty interesting history.

      Thanks for the comment.

    • goldentoad profile image

      goldentoad 8 years ago from Free and running....

      sacramento should only be the capital of NoCal. SoCal should be its own state.

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 8 years ago from Sacramento, California

      thanks for reading.

    • EcoAsh profile image

      EcoAsh 8 years ago from Hemet

      Nice hub! I have always wondered why Sacramneto was the capital.